Smoked bacon and Jersey Royal salad…

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Smoked bacon and Jersey Royal salad...

Some suppers require little more than good ingredients and a firm splash of simplicity. Tonight it was just my daughter and I so we decided to go for a dish that reflected the weather. Not quite summer, and still a lot of spring rain in the air. A dish that blended the freshness of early summer with the warmth of late spring. So I turned to my trusted friends – new potatoes and smoked bacon. Made for each other.

I popped 10 halved Jersey Royals on to boil for 15 minutes until a knife could slip through them with delicate ease. I fried 4 rashers of good bacon once the spuds had cooked. I then drained the Jerseys, added a grind or two of black pepper and sea salt and added them to the frying pan to soak up the juices and take on a little colour.

The next important thing is to turn off the heat and let the potatoes cool for a few minutes.

Into two bowls I added a variety of salad leaves that were lingering with intent in the fridge plus some finely grated fresh beetroot. I then sliced 10 San Marzano tomatoes and shared them between the bowls. Then, with a steady hand, I dealt out the potatoes and the bacon slices which I had each snipped into three pieces or so.

I gently tossed all the ingredients and added a swirl or two of a balsamic glaze.

This is the simplest of suppers and yet one which, like a butterfly net, catches the very essence of the finely poised seasons of Spring and Summer.

And you leave the table thinking, yes, all is well with the world; Summer is not far off, and Spring is still watching over us.

The marriage of tastes is sublime – and it looks good too.

Right, time for another glass of tempranillo.

A fire in my hand…

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A fire in my hand...

I am excited today…excited at the prospect of a new venture and a new partnership…a partnership with a wonderful artist and illustrator called Bonnie Lalley from the States. I feel,just like the painting, that I have fire in my hands! We have both been inspired by each others work – so much so that Bonnie will send me a painting inspired by my recipes or I will write… inspired by a painting she has sent me. So here we go….

When I first set eyes on this piece of work by Bonnie I was suddenly transported to Spain. I am heading out to Valencia in the summer – land of the late harvesting princely Valencian Orange. Sweet, juicy and warm in every sense, This hand is holding on tight to this precious cargo and no wonder…it is one of the demi gods of the citrus world.

I was put in mind of a salad I had a few years ago out in Northern Spain….a simple yet satisfying and sensual salad centred around the Valencian Orange.

Valencian Orange and Walnut Salad with Olive Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette:
10 finely chopped small black olives – kalamata or hojiblanca would be ideal
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 garlic clove – skinned and crushed
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A grind or two of sea salt
Chopped walnuts or almonds or both!
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salad:
3 Valencian oranges – or any good juicy types
1 seriously large handful baby of rocket
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Right, for the vinaigrette pop all the ingredients into a small bowl. Whisk well and set to one side.
Peel the oranges. Cut each orange in half, remove the pith and cut crosswise into 8 segments. Set aside.
Divide the rocket onto four plates. Top with the orange slices. Add a few sprinklings of the chopped nuts-you could toast them too. Drizzle with the vinaigrette. Finish with freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Oranges are a gift from God and a fruit we take for granted. We must not. We must hold them close and cherish them.

And I want to end with a truly beautiful poem…a favourite of mine..and one that goes so well with this painting.

Oranges
By Gary Soto

The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December. Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge. I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drugstore. We
Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted –
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth. I fingered
A nickle in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn’t say anything.
I took the nickle from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter. When I looked up,
The lady’s eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all
About.

Outside,
A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl’s hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

I hope you enjoy our collaboration…who knows where it will take us!

Thank you ,Bonnie..here’s to a good year. Please, please visit her site…she is on my blogroll..(No 40 on those I follow.)